My fiancé, M, and I have very different work schedules. I leave the house while he is still snuggled under the covers. We get home at about the same time, but his hobbies often keep him out late, while my schedule requires me to be in bed early.
The worst, though, is that even when we’re home together and not too busy, we don’t always want to do the same thing. I despise going for walks if the weather is less than tropical, and he gets antsy when we’re in binge-watching TV. Sometimes we’re just happier doing our separate activities… but when we’ve gone days without sitting down face to face, I start to feel a little empty.
We’ve talked about this before. We’ve discussed how many weeknights to spend apart or together, and what kind of weekend plans we might enjoy together. These talks are good, but the problem rears its ugly head again and again.
The deeper issue here is that I am and introvert, and M is an extrovert. I come home from work craving solitude and silence, and he leaves his office wanting connection and conversation. I know I can’t give him the level of attention and interaction he needs, so I encourage him to go out and spend time with his friends. Even though I miss him, it gives me time to focus on my solitary hobbies, like music, reading, and writing. Then, on the days we have more time together, I can focus more energy on him… at least in theory.
The conflicts come when I want a quiet evening in, and he wants me to join him for a night out. Usually we’ll talk it through (How exhausting are the plans for me? How important are they for him?) and come to a solution. Sometimes we’ll compromise–I’ll come in a separate car and leave early, or we’ll spend that night out and do something quiet and relaxing the next day. Most often, he’ll go out, and I’ll just stay home. It’s fine, mostly, but it leaves me feeling a little bit inadequate. I wonder if he’d be happier with someone more social and outgoing. I wonder if his ex was…
When we spend too much time apart, I start to feel the strain of it, like something small starting to unravel and pull apart. Nights when I have to eat dinner alone, or tuck myself into an empty bed are the hardest. But those are the sacrifices I make so that he can get what he needs, so that he can be happy. I remind myself of this constantly, but a small part of me, the part that fears being abandoned, starts to close off.
M usually notices this shift before I do. He’ll catch my eyes as he’s leaving for the night, and ask if I’m okay, knowing I’m not. And the discussion will begin again. And we’ll start to make plans together–even if it’s just a special meal we’ll cook together that week, or going out to dinner with friends. I’ll join him in his vibrant, extroverted world for a while, and he’ll join me in my quiet, slow-paced one.
Life gets in the way sometimes, and it can be hard to maintain a strong connection, but as long as we make time for the long, wandering conversations that brought us together in the beginning, we find our way back to each other again and again.
And now… Monthly Project Updates!
It’s the beginning of a new month! I’m going to revisit my list of projects and see where I’ve made progress, and where I’ve fallen behind. (Anyone reading this, please feel free to skip this part! I’m posting this to keep myself accountable, and it probably doesn’t offer much in terms of entertainment! :p)
- Clearing out junk: I’ve made pretty good progress sorting through and parting with old things. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’ve learned that letting go of old possessions has helped me mentally let go of my past.
- Wedding planning: Ugh… I have done nothing. “How’s the wedding planning going?’ has quickly become one of my least favorite questions to answer! In the past month, I’ve spent about 5 looking into public parks as options for wedding venues, but found nothing interesting so far…
- Music: I set practice goals for myself, and have stuck with them pretty well so far. I’ve actually come a long way in terms of “singing and playing piano at the same time!” I have several songs I can play with about 90% accuracy, but conquering that last 10% is always the toughest!
- Career: I’ve struggled about what to do about this, and decided to play it safe. I’ll stick with my job for another contract year, and take steps toward a possible career shift.
- Tidiness: I won’t be winning any “clean apartment of the month” awards, but between clearing out junk and more rigorous maintenance cleaning (*cough* dishes *cough*) it passes the “unexpected guest test.”
- Writing: While I haven’t been writing a book, I’ve spent time writing this blog. That counts as something, right?